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VL/HCC 2015 Keynote: Requirements for a Computing Literate Society

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I. Our Job: The first computer scientists set the goal to achieve a Computing-Literate Society.
II. Challenges to Achieving a Computing-Literate Society
Access and Diversity
Inverse Lake Wobegon Effect
Unanswered research questions of policymakers

III. Inventing New Kinds of Computing Education
Story #1: Contextualized Computing Education.
Story #2: Understanding the Needs of High School CS Teachers.

We share a vision of a society that is able to express problems and ideas computationally. Andrea diSessa called that *computational literacy*, and he invented the Boxer Programming Environment to explore the media of computational literacy. Education has the job of making citizens *literate*. Education systems around the world are exploring the question of what should all citizens know about computing and how do we provide that knowledge. The questions being asked are about public policy, but also about what does it mean to be expressive with computation and what should computing users know. The answers to these questions have implications for the future of human-centric computing.

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VL/HCC 2015 Keynote: Requirements for a Computing Literate Society

  1. 1. Requirements for a Computing-Literate Society Mark Guzdial School of Interactive Computing
  2. 2. The Two Cultures
  3. 3. Story I. Our Job: The first computer scientists set the goal to achieve a Computing-Literate Society. II. Challenges to Achieving a Computing-Literate Society • Access and Diversity • Inverse Lake Wobegon Effect • Unanswered research questions of policymakers III. Inventing New Kinds of Computing Education • Story #1: Contextualized Computing Education. • Story #2: Understanding the Needs of High School CS Teachers.
  4. 4. Papert, Logo, DiSessa, Boxer
  5. 5. 1961 MIT Sloan School Symposium
  6. 6. Learn Programming to Re-Think Process Everywhere • Alan Perlis argued that computer science should be part of a liberal education. • Explicitly, he argued that all students should learn to program. • Why? • Because Computer Science is the study of process. • Automated execution of process changes everything • Including how we think about things we already know
  7. 7. Elias: Does it have to be programming? • Licklider: Peter, I think the first apes who tried to talk with one another decided that learning language was a dreadful bore…But some people write poetry in the language we speak. • Perlis: The purpose of a course in programming is to teach people how to construct and analyze processes…A course in programming is concerned with abstraction: the abstraction of constructing, analyzing, and describing processes…The point is to make the students construct complex processes out of simpler ones….A properly designed programming course will develop these abilities better than any other course. 7
  8. 8. “A handful of people, having no relation to the will of society, having no communication with the rest of society, will be taking decisions in secret which are going to affect our lives in the deepest sense.” The Power and Fear of Algorithms • The Economist (Sept., 2007) spoke to the algorithms that control us, yet we don’t understand. • Credit Ratings, Adjustable Rate Mortgages, Search Rankings • C.P. Snow foresaw this in 1961. • Those who don’t understand algorithms, can’t understand how the decisions are made.
  9. 9. II. Challenges • Access and Diversity: We aren’t reaching everyone. • Inverse Lake Wobegon Effect: We think we know more than we do • Public policy-makers are asking unanswered research questions
  10. 10. Computing education in US by-the-numbers 10 • ~25,000 high schools in the United States. • 2,525 AP Computer Science teachers in the United States. • American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) founded in 1930. • NCTM founded in 1920 • Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) founded in 2005.
  11. 11. High School Participation in AP STEM Disciplines — Chris Stephenson, CSTA, 2010 In 2014, 38K exam- takers
  12. 12. Thanks to Brian Danielak
  13. 13. Lake Wobegon Effect
  14. 14. Inverse Lake Wobegon Effect • We only know the top half. • People who take CS in undergraduate are above average. • People who get access to CS education are among the most privileged in
  15. 15. Policymakers’ Questions • US NSF Alliances to Broaden Participation in Computing • “Georgia Computes!” • Focus: Activities in middle and high school, with lots of teacher professional development. • CAITE • Focus: higher-education pathways focused on community colleges in underserved regions. • Merged to provide support to US states in improving computing education: Expanded Computing Education Pathways Alliance (ECEP)
  16. 16. What We’ve Learned: States are Diverse • In some states, the Department of Education controls everything. In other states, individual districts make most decisions, and the state Department of Education controls little. • In some: Advanced Placement is valued. In others: Advanced Placement is considered elitist. “Not for our kids.” • In most states, Computer Science is classified as Career and Technical Education. In some: CTE teachers are in schools, so CS can integrate with math and science. In others: CTE is in separate vocational high schools.
  17. 17. Issues from States: Make it a requirement? • South Carolina: Requires CS for graduation, for over 30 years. • But it’s not really CS. Should they change? • Can we teach CS to everyone? • Research Questions: • Can we teach CS to special needs students? • What are the challenges of teaching CS to English Language Learners (ELL)?
  18. 18. Issues from States: Invest in K-12 and Teachers • Utah: Focusing on ages 5-10 CS. • Only 104 students took AP CS in 2014, only 4 female. • Research Questions: • How much of CS can we teach to children 5- 10? • Does teaching CS in early grades lead to long term improved attitudes towards CS? • How is the cost difference of scaling CS in elementary school? • How do teach teachers CS, without losing them to industry?
  19. 19. Issues in States: URM Differences • Georgia Computes had significant impact on women and Hispanic AP CS exam-takers. • Less impact on Black. • Most states have lower AP CS participation and pass rates for Black students than Hispanic and female students. • Why? 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000 Total in Georgia Women Black Hispanic
  20. 20. How do we meet society’s need for computing education? 20 • We need to answer the research questions of policymakers who want computing education in their states. • We need classes that show CS to be a possible career path, a rigorous domain, and a useful set of skills and knowledge. • We need teachers—more well-prepared, confident, and retained computing teachers – who aren’t necessarily software developers • We need to find ways to help adult professionals learn computing when they discover that they need it. #1 #2
  21. 21. Story #1: The Role of Context • Fall 1999: All students at Georgia Tech must take a course in computer science. • Considered part of General Education, like mathematics, social science, humanities… • 1999-2003: Only one course met the requirement. • Shackelford’s pseudocode approach in 1999 • Later Scheme: How to Design Programs (MIT Press)
  22. 22. One-class CS1: Pass (A, B, or C) vs. WDF (Withdrawal, D or F) Success Rates in CS1 from Fall 1999 to Spring 2002 (Overall: 78%) Architecture 46.7% Biology 64.4% Economics 53.5% History 46.5% Management 48.5% Public Policy 47.9%
  23. 23. Contextualized Computing Education • What’s going on? • Research results: Computing is “tedious, boring, irrelevant” • Since Spring 2003, Georgia Tech teaches three introductory CS courses. • Based on Margolis and Fisher’s “alternative paths” • Each course introduces computing using a context (examples, homework assignments, lecture discussion) relevant to majors. • Make computing relevant by teaching it in terms of what computers are good for (from the students’ perspective)
  24. 24. def negative(picture): for px in getPixels(picture): red=getRed(px) green=getGreen(px) blue=getBlue(px) negColor=makeColor(255-red,255-green,255-blue) setColor(px,negColor) def clearRed(picture): for pixel in getPixels(picture): setRed(pixel,0) def greyscale(picture): for p in getPixels(picture): redness=getRed(p) greenness=getGreen(p) blueness=getBlue(p) luminance=(redness+blueness+greenness)/3 setColor(p, makeColor(luminance,luminance,luminance))
  25. 25. Media Computation: Teaching in a Relevant Context • Presenting CS topics with media projects and examples • Iteration as creating negative and grayscale images • Indexing in a range as removing redeye • Algorithms for blending both images and sounds • Linked lists as song fragments woven to make music • Information encodings as sound visualizations 25
  26. 26. Results: “Media Computation” 86.5% 88.4% 84.7% 89.9% 91.9% 87.5% 80.3% 82.9% 77.5% 12.5% 10.3% 14.7% 9.4% 7.6% 11.4% 19.7% 17.1% 22.5% TotalFall03 Fem alesFall03M alesFall03 TotalSp04Fem alesSp04M alesSp04TotalFall04 Fem alesFall04M alesFall04 WDF Pass Change in Success rates in CS1 “Media Computation” from Spring 2003 to Fall 2005 (Overall 85%) Architecture 46.7% 85.7% Biology 64.4% 90.4% Economics 54.5% 92.0% History 46.5% 67.6% Management 48.5% 87.8% Public Policy 47.9% 85.4%
  27. 27. Voices from Media Computation Students • “I just wish I had more time to play around with that and make neat effects. But JES [IDE for class] will be on my computer forever, so… that’s the nice thing about this class is that you could go as deep into the homework as you wanted. So, I’d turn it in and then me and my roommate would do more after to see what we could do with it.” • “I dreaded CS, but ALL of the topics thus far have been applicable to my future career (& personal) plans— there isn't anything I don't like about this class!!!" • "Media Computation is a CS class but with less severity. The media part of the class is extremely visually interesting. I would only take another CS class if it were Media Computation."
  28. 28. Glitch Game Testers Betsy DiSalvo and Amy Bruckman • Engaging African-American Teen Males in CS. • Hiring them as game-testers, to get them to go below the surface of the technology. • Of the 33 young men who participated in the program, all completed high school and over half took post- secondary computing DiSalvo, IEEE CG&A, 2014
  29. 29. Story #2: Understanding CS Teacher’s Needs To be successful, CS teachers need: • A sense of identity • Where does that sense of identity come from? • Confidence in their ability to teach • For US CS teachers, from community and role models. (Lijun Ni, 2011) • More professional learning: CK and PCK
  30. 30. Teachers need their Communities “I’m a better Math teacher, just because I’ve had so much support. Whenever I have problems, I can talk with the people that I work with, most of who have taught for many years in Math.…Every day, I’m eating lunch with Math teachers. With Computer Science, I’ve got nobody to talk to.” From Lijun Ni’s 2011 thesis on CS teacher identity
  31. 31. Disciplinary Commons Group of educators from diverse institutions who teach within the same subject area meeting monthly over an academic year. In monthly increments, the participants prepare a course portfolio. Goals 1. To document and share knowledge about student learning in Computer Science classrooms. 2. To establish practices for the scholarship of teaching by making it public, peer-reviewed, and amenable for future use and development by other educators. [1] [1] Tenenberg, J. and Fincher, S. Opening the door of the computer science classroom: the Disciplinary Commons. SIGCSE Bull., 39, 1 2007, 514-518.
  32. 32. DCCE in Georgia Disciplinary Commons for Computing Educators Adaptation – High School teachers AND University Goals 1. Creating community 2. Sharing resources and knowledge of how things are taught in other contexts AND… 3. Supporting student recruitment within the high school environment Work by Briana Morrison, Lijun Ni, Ria Galanos, & Allison Elliott Tew
  33. 33. Building Community Partnerships Before (PRE) DCCE Partnerships After (POST) DCCE Morrison, Ni, & Guzdial, ICER
  34. 34. Improving Recruiting • 302% increase in number of AP CS students in the year following their participation in the DCCE • Year of participation – 122 students enrolled • Next year – 491 students pre-registered • One teacher 700% increase (3 to 24 students) • Reasons: 1. Venue to share recruitment ideas 2. Sense of community (keep up morale during recruiting)
  35. 35. Teacher Confidence “I think DCCE definitely did help [me feel more confident]. I think it was just being a part of a community of teachers that you can actually talk with about teaching. That gives you confidence when you don’t teach it in a vacuum.”
  36. 36. How do you prepare your students for the AP CS exam? 36 • “Everything in that class is more or less an assessment. They’re supposed to read certain sections in the book, and then they have quizzes over the reading. After they do the reading assignments, they have Gridworld case study quizzes and also Gridworld case study segments of code that they will go in and manipulate to change to get the things in the Gridworld case study to react different ways. Those are pretty much graded as labs or programs or quizzes.”
  37. 37. How do you prepare your students for the AP CS exam? 37 • “Everything in that class is more or less an assessment. They’re supposed to read certain sections in the book, and then they have quizzes over the reading. After they do the reading assignments, they have Gridworld case study quizzes and also Gridworld case study segments of code that they will go in and manipulate to change to get the things in the Gridworld case study to react different ways. Those are pretty much graded as labs or programs or quizzes.”
  38. 38. How do you prepare your students for the AP CS exam? 38 • And then if I read these [student quizzes], I can see any misconceptions or gaps in what I’ve done. I get a picture in my mind of where the current class is. Making them do the explaining is new this year. I’m seeing them do a lot better there. I‘ll do like little code (assignments) that they’ll write once a week. They have to write it by hand away from the computer, and I’ll read that and write them comments on what they’re doing and help them grade it with a rubric, and also pass them back after I’ve read them for them to grade, too, and have them look at what was catching it or where it didn’t quite get to it.
  39. 39. How do you prepare your students for the AP CS exam? 39 • And then if I read these [student quizzes], I can see any misconceptions or gaps in what I’ve done. I get a picture in my mind of where the current class is. Making them do the explaining is new this year. I’m seeing them do a lot better there. I‘ll do like little code (assignments) that they’ll write once a week. They have to write it by hand away from the computer, and I’ll read that and write them comments on what they’re doing and help them grade it with a rubric, and also pass them back after I’ve read them for them to grade, too, and have them look at what was catching it or where it didn’t quite get to it.
  40. 40. A successful CS teacher… 40 • Writes assignments and comments, not code. • Guides students through rubrics. • Focus on learning activities (coding away from the computer, explaining). • Minimal focus on assessment. …is not a Software Developer.
  41. 41. Teaching CS Teachers online 41 • Can we reach more potential CS teachers online? • Emphasizing the skills and knowledge of successful CS teachers • Providing support for a sense of community
  42. 42. An Ebook for Teaching CS Teachers
  43. 43. Parsons Problems
  44. 44. Findings: What do users do in an ebook? Ericson, Guzdial, & Morrison, ICER 2015
  45. 45. Conclusions • It’s a foundational CS problem to develop a computing-literate society. • The challenges are enormous – we are far from our goal and don’t know how to get there. • Two lessons from our work: 1. Providing a context that matches learner interests improves motivation and retention. 2. Teachers don’t need to be software developers. They need community, confidence, and more learning options beyond apprenticeship.
  46. 46. Many thanks! • Colleagues: Barbara Ericson, Tom McKlin, Rick Adrion, Renee Fall, Brad Miller, Ria Galanos, Allison Elliott Tew, Lijun Ni, & Briana Morrison • Our Funders: US National Science Foundation • Statewide BPC Alliance: Project “Georgia Computes!” http://www.gacomputes.org • Expanding Computing Education Pathways Alliance, http://expandingcomputing.org • CCLI and CPATH Grants, and now CE21 and IUSE to produce ebooks • Georgia’s Department of Education • GVU Center, and Institute for People and Technology (iPaT) at Georgia Tech
  47. 47. Thank you! • http://www.cc.gatech.edu/~mark.guzdial • Lab: http://home.cc.gatech.edu/csl • Ebook Access: http://ebooks.cc.gatech.edu/TeachCSP-Python • Media Computation: http://mediacomputation.org • Institute for Computing Education at Georgia Tech: • http://coweb.cc.gatech.edu/ice-gt • Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP): • http://ecepalliance.org

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